Todays readings… 2 Chronicles 28, Daniel 8, Acts 8
“RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD”
The Gospels tell us Jesus often went through Samaria in travelling from Jerusalem to Galilee and back. On several occasions he had encounters with the Samaritans and on occasions spent time with them. We read earlier this month of an occasion when he heeded their request to stay and teach them and, as a result, some said, “we know that this is indeed the saviour of the world.” [John 4 v.42] So we can see that the Samarians were ready for the Gospel harvest. Jesus commissioned his disciples as he was about to ascend to heaven that they were be to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1 v.8] Only in our days, is the message really reaching “the end of the earth”
They were at first slow to carry out his commission. Preaching was concentrated on Jerusalem until Stephen was killed, but, as we read today in Acts 8, after “his execution … they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” [v.1]
Philip made a particular effort to preach in Samaria (v.5) “and the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said … and saw the signs that he did … so there was much joy … “ [v.6,8] “When they believed Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God, they were baptised … now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God they sent to them Peter and John” [v.12,14].
This is a key word –, received and receive that we will encounter in the book of Acts and apostolic writings. Ch. 11 starts, “Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.” [v.1]. The point is; it is one thing to read and to hear about the message of the Kingdom and of Christ’s is return to establish it – but the vital thing is whether that message is received into the heart and mind. Look up the words in Acts 17 v.11 as a special example. If you “receive” a message it becomes part of your thinking and motivates the person into action. Have you “received the word of God – or only just know about it? To find it interesting is only a stepping stone – the journey to conviction has to be completed.